Today, I have the honor of participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Longest Day™. I’m excited to stretch my legs as I explore the nation’s capital and reinvigorate my passion for fighting Alzheimer’s disease, the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. I work at the Alzheimer’s Association because this disease took my grandmother when I was in high school, and I’ll be thinking of her today.
It’s fitting to be taking in some of our nation’s most awe-inspiring monuments as we consider the enormous magnitude of this public health crisis our country is facing. Alzheimer’s disease is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression. Despite this shocking lack of treatment more than 100 years after the disease was discovered, for every $25,000 the federal government spends on care for people living with Alzheimer’s disease, it only spends $100 on Alzheimer’s research.
Staggering statistics aside, my heart breaks for families like mine who have, are or will be touched — slapped really — by this devastating disease. I know my grandmother would want better for my son, and I’m proud to be honoring both of them as an Alzheimer’s Champion.
Wherever you are today on the longest day of the year, I hope you’ll think of the Alzheimer’s Association and the challenge ahead of us as you climb a set of stairs, lug groceries from the car, or walk the dog. We’re all in this together.
View photos from The Longest Day.
Erin Heintz works in public relations at the national office of the Alzheimer’s Association. She recently relocated to D.C. from Chicago with her husband, 6-month-old son and golden retriever. She is participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Longest Day™, a sunrise-to-sunset relay supporting those affected by Alzheimer’s disease.